This piece originally appeared in our guide Breaking into Fashion…
Preparing your work and yourself for a portfolio review can seem a little daunting – but with the right mind set and a little planning, you can have a successful day building lucrative relationships. Reviews are important in furthering your career, getting honest feedback on your work, and getting guidance on how to make your next professional move. To get tips on what you should do before and during a review, we talked with Joshua Herman, the co-founder of NYCFotoWorks.
FotoWorks’ is a little different than your average portfolio review. Their main goal is to create an atmosphere that allows creative professionals such as photo editors, art buyers, and artists reps to successfully connect with photographers in an efficient and elegant way. FotoWorks prides themselves on creating an environment of excellence by vetting photographers with an application process. Reviews are done by award-winning photographer and FotoWorks co-founder, Marc Asnin, who ensures that FotoWorks accepts photographers with unique visions and great work.
This week they’re hosting their Artists in Motion (AIM) portfolio review in New York City. Read ahead about the event, including the three tips photographers need to know before going into a review, what you can expect to get out of an event like this, and how to prioritize meetings.
What do photographers get out of portfolio reviews (especially to make the monetary investment worthwhile)?
It’s about the creation of a personal connection and the face-to-face experience.
Portfolio reviews provide the opportunity for you to connect on a personal level with the editors so they get a solid idea of who the person is behind the work. When photographers contact the editors later, they can associate a personality along with the work, and that is a tremendous upper hand. They can have more confidence knowing why a certain photographer might be particularly qualified for a situation.
How should photographers select and prioritize the meetings they want?
Photographers must ask themselves whether they’re looking for a professional assessment of their portfolio, or whether they’re looking to get work. Some photographers hope to get a better understanding of where their works stands, what type of work they can expect to get, and ways in which they can improve or tailor their portfolio to be able to get the kind of work they want.
If you’re coming to get work, you should take some time to reflect on what kind of work you want. Are you in editorial and looking to expand your horizons into advertising? Or are you thinking of a completely new direction? The portfolio review enables you to not only establish professional goals, but also come face to face with the reality of the marketplace.
What are 3 tips you have for photographers as they prepare for reviews?
- Do as much research as you can about the clients you’ll be meeting with before hand.
- Make sure your portfolio is tight, regardless of the format, and make sure you have promotional material to leave behind with the editors.
- Because this is a face to face meeting, make sure all your talking points are prepared, and dress in a way that you feel most comfortable.
What should they do day-of?
It’s important to remember that your review day is not a ‘make-it or break-it’ moment. This day is about the beginning of a process and creating relationships. It’s also great to mingle with the other photographers because you can get so much from your peers at and after the event.
Are photographers advised to bring digital and printed portfolios?
Most photographers, believe it or not, still bring printed portfolios. Some bring both – with motion becoming more and more a part of the market, digital portfolios help that way.
How should photographers follow-up with the buyers they met at the event?
Email, direct promotion, hand made prints, phone calls, all these are good options for a follow up. The most important thing is to not be overbearing. Remember this is as much about your work as it is about who you are. It’s like life, this is not about instant gratification, but rather, building a foundation.
At NYCFotoWorks, what percentage of editors vs. agencies vs. agents attend? Can you give us some examples of who will attend this year?
We have a great mix of advertising, editorial, and reps attend each of our events. It’s pretty evenly divided among the three categories, somewhere between 35-50 reviewers per category. A few examples of people attending are: Deutsch, JWT, McCann, Mother NY, Publicis Kaplan Thaler, Grey Group, Havas, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Fast Company, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, People, and Reader’s Digest.
Photographers who are selected can choose up to 27 reviewers and prioritize who they’d like to meet with. Some reviewers are in great demand, but everyone who signs up typically gets their top picks.
What other types of events does NYCFotoWorks put on?
We host ‘Focus Workshops,’ which like the reviews, are vetted. Our workshops are for every level of photographer: you’re never too old to learn! We offer workshops because some may be good photographers, but they may not be so commercially driven. If you don’t feel ready for a portfolio review, these workshops can help bring you to that next level. Where the Reviews are more a space to promote your work, workshops are a place to grow. Doing both enables a two pack punch.
Apply for NYCFotoWorks Focus Workshops here.